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Christmas, Grief, Hurt, Loss, Trials & Tragedies

When The Holidays Hurt

I wish I wasn’t speaking from experience. I wish I didn’t know first-hand how much the holidays can ache with loss and grief. Once you experience great loss, it travels with you. It goes where you go, and it surfaces when you least expect it, brought on by seemingly mundane moments. Some of you know this to be true, and the girls you minister to may know it as well.

There is this great hope that the holidays will be full of magic—of twinkle lights and hot chocolate, of good food and family traditions. But for some of us—for some of your girls—these traditions ache with loss. They serve as reminders of a void that can’t be filled. They bring to the surface a realization that life is altered now—that the chair will remain empty.

When I experienced losing my stepmom to Covid during the holidays, I learned some valuable truths about grief and the Lord. Now two years later, these truths don’t diminish the pain, but they propel me to understand others in their grief.

During this holiday season, maybe you also find yourself in a time of grief, or you’re walking with someone through theirs. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. God is still so, so good even when it doesn’t feel like it.

We often let our circumstances dictate how we feel about God, but our seasons of hurt and loss don’t define who He is. God is unchanging, and while it can feel like He is absent, God transcends our grief. He is above it yet present with us in it. In fact, He gave His Son to abolish it forever. We see in Scripture that God is good, and He does what is good (see Ps. 119:68). So even when we walk in sorrow, we can lean into God’s goodness and trust in His unfaltering character.

2. We all need someone to sit with us in our grief.

If one of your girls is experiencing grief or pain, it can be hard to know what to say. We can fall into the trap of wanting to say all the right things in hopes that our words will help them. We absolutely should speak God’s truth over them. But one of the best things we can do is sit with them. Let them vent. Let them cry. Take them for ice cream. Allow them to process without offering too many suggestions because no matter how hard we try, we can’t fix their pain. They’ll remember our presence more than our words.

3. Jesus cares.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus experienced sorrow and grief. He loved deeply, and He felt compassion for those in pain. Jesus wept over the death of His friend, Lazarus (John 11). Not only did He hurt with Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, but Jesus also wept over our fallen state. He wept because of sin’s effects on humanity—sickness, death, and separation from the Father. But in the greatest act of compassion ever known, Jesus shed His blood so we can experience victory over death! Not only does Jesus understand our sorrow, but He sacrificed Himself to ransom us from it.

4. We can feel sorrow and peace.

Somehow it isn’t either sorrow or peace. It’s both—sorrow and peace. They can exist simultaneously—an ironic oxymoron. In the midst of our deepest pain, we can walk in a peace that surpasses our understanding (Philippians 4:7). Where does it come from? It comes from embracing that this isn’t our home; this isn’t all there is, and death isn’t final. We have an eternity awaiting us—one with no more tears, pain, or sin. It’s an eternity of perfection in God’s presence, and the knowledge of this gives us hope here.

5. Our grief can point us to Jesus.

Allowing yourself or your teen girl to fully feel the grief is important. Sorrow can act as an avenue to experience the Lord more deeply because “the Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18, CSB). When we bring our grief and our heartache to God, it becomes an act of worship. And out of that grief, we can know God’s heart more intimately.

I never thought it could be true, but after walking in a hard season of grief, I came to know the Lord more deeply. I came to trust even more in His goodness. Our grief, though not something God delights in, can have a purpose. If we allow it, sorrow can draw us nearer to our Father and serve as a reminder of our real home in heaven. May this Christmas season remind us of the lengths God went to in order to redeem us from the grave. He was and still is God with us—Immanuel.


Alecia Bryant lives in Louisiana with her husband, Chris, and their two children, Parker (8) and Avery (5). She loves studying God’s Word, writing, and leading worship. Alecia has a passion for discipleship and believes God’s Word is a life-changing gift. She serves alongside her husband, the Discipleship Pastor at their church. In her free time, she is likely hunting down her next favorite Mexican restaurant or curled up on the couch with her kids. Connect with Alecia: Blog // Instagram